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The Insane Marketing Brilliance of the Boston Red Sox Beards

You may or may not be a baseball fan, but this October it’s been hard to avoid noticing the scruffy Boston Red Sox Beards in the World Series.
We’re not just talking any little beards either. No cute little goatees. With our high-def TV’s, we’re not missing any details. Not a single whisker.
The Boston Beards are big, bushy, and scratchy. They look like they might smell bad. They’re carrying the weight of a 162-game season and postseason sweating it out in this summer’s heat waves in cities across the country. The Red Sox look like castaways or dangerous psychopaths.
One analysis I saw of the World Series said that St. Louis is the team your parents wanted you to date, whereas the Red Sox are the team you secretly went out with against their wishes.
From a marketing perspective, these beards are solid gold pure genius. Here’s why:
1. The Boston Beards are Branding at its Finest
Odds are when you first saw these guys, you stopped what you were doing and had to find out more. You may have Googled them or read an article about them. The beards made the cover of Sports Illustrated with a big feature story to boot.
In growing out their facial hair to epidemic proportions, the players created a narrative about themselves and about their team that pique curiosity and demand attention.
2. The Boston Beards are Memorable
You will never forget the image of an entire baseball team that look more likely to build an Amish barn than they are to play ball.
It reminds me of another lasting visual. Some years ago, I watched the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade and saw a group of eight men all dressed as Richard Simmons. If one person dresses as Richard Simmons, no one would have remembered. But if eight guys do, that image is a lot harder to erase.
Years from now, not only will people remember the Boston Red Sox with their beards in this World Series, they may remember additional details as well: the names of the players, the two grand slams against the Tigers, or other details about this particular postseason.
3. The Boston Beards Make Us Like Them
On first appearance, it seems like these guys have a serious bromance going on. The story is that the Red Sox together decided to grow out their beards since spring training. It appeards that they are a highly gelled team and that they enjoy each other.
In turn, that makes them likable to us, in spite of the fact that we’ve been conditioned through media to regard massive facial hair as dangerous.
Likability is something all of us in marketing need to strive for. It’s one of the most important ingredients in persuasion, as identified by Robert Cialdini in his highly regarded work on influence.
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4. Those Beards took Love and Dedication
Let me tell you something from someone who grew his first mustache: facial hair is uncomfortable, at least during the grow out phase. It feels like someone chopped up a brillo pad and glued it to my face.
These guys wore these heavy beards in the heat of summer. Remember the scorcher this summer in the northeast? They barreled through that with an evolutionary advantage which is designed for ice-age survival.
If their wives, mothers, and daughters are anything like mine, the Red Sox are getting a lot of grief. It’s one thing to see a big bushy beard on TV but it’s another when you’re not used to it to have it inside your house.
Like a good brand, the Red Sox understand who they are and stayed true to themselves, unwaveringly.
The question now: will they be remembered as the World Series champs with the beards, or the runners-up with the beards?